Eleven years after his incomparable sire, Courage Under Fire, took out the same race, outstanding New Zealand stayer Courage To Rule staged a mini harness racing coup tonight (Friday) by winning the $200,000 Alabar Victoria Derby.
In a race of constant movement, three horses - For A Reason,and Lincoln Royal - all found the front at some stage, but it was the withering late burst from the Greg Bennett-driven Courage To Rule that decided the race.
"It's a special feeling," Bennett said immediately after the race. "It's a very hard race to win and Dad's got a share in the horse so it was pretty exciting."
After becoming engaged in the battle for early ascendancy from his awkward gate six draw, Courage To Rule settled into a comfortable position in the running line through the middle stages.
The genuine early tempo yielded a lead time of 1:11.7 before the leaders backed off to complete a first half of the last mile in 62.7, during whichand Lincoln Royal made sweeping runs to take control of affairs.
That moderate mid-race tempo paved the way for a sizzling back straight sectional of 27.7 seconds before Courage To Rule descended on the two leaders in a final split of 28.1 secs for a cracking 1:58.8 mile rate.
"They went hard down the back and dropped him at the corner but the 2500 metres was right up his alley. He relished it." Bennett said of his charge's effort in the final stages.
"I was pretty happy to see the line come up, but he ended up winning by a length, so it was good."
At the conclusion of the 2575-metre Classic, Courage To Rule ($11) had 1.5 metres to spare from countryman Lincoln Royal ($5.20) in a dream result for the Kiwis with top Queensland colt($10) a further 1.2 metres astern in third.
Favourite Major Bronski ($4.10) was far from disgraced in fourth, having endured a tough run in the death chair for the majority of the event and only wilting late.